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Nathan J. L. Lenssen, Lisa Goddard, and Simon Mason

Abstract

El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the dominant source of seasonal climate predictability. This study quantifies the historical impact of ENSO on seasonal precipitation through an update of the global ENSO teleconnection maps of Mason and Goddard. Many additional teleconnections are detected due to better handling of missing values and 20 years of additional, higher quality data. These global teleconnection maps are used as deterministic and probabilistic empirical seasonal forecasts in a verification study. The probabilistic empirical forecast model outperforms climatology in the tropics demonstrating the value of a forecast derived from the expected precipitation anomalies given the ENSO phase. Incorporating uncertainty due to SST prediction shows that teleconnection maps are skillful in predicting tropical precipitation up to a lead time of 4 months. The historical IRI seasonal forecasts generally outperform the empirical forecasts made with the teleconnection maps, demonstrating the additional value of state-of-the-art dynamical-based seasonal forecast systems. Additionally, the probabilistic empirical seasonal forecasts are proposed as reference forecasts for future skill assessments of real-time seasonal forecast systems.

Open access
Peter Vogel, Peter Knippertz, Andreas H. Fink, Andreas Schlueter, and Tilmann Gneiting

Abstract

Precipitation forecasts are of large societal value in the tropics. Here, we compare 1–5-day ensemble predictions from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF, 2009–17) and the Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC, 2009–16) over 30°S–30°N with an extended probabilistic climatology based on the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission 3 B42 gridded dataset. Both models predict rainfall occurrence better than the reference only over about half of all land points, with a better performance by MSC. After applying the postprocessing technique ensemble model output statistics, this fraction increases to 87% (ECMWF) and 82% (MSC). For rainfall amount there is skill in many tropical areas (about 60% of land points), which can be increased by postprocessing to 97% (ECMWF) and 88% (MSC). Forecasts for extremes (>20 mm) are only marginally worse than those of occurrence but do not improve as much through postprocessing, particularly over dry areas. Forecast performance is generally best over arid Australia and worst over oceanic deserts, the Andes and Himalayas, as well as over tropical Africa, where models misrepresent the high degree of convective organization, such that even postprocessed forecasts are hardly better than climatology. Skill of 5-day accumulated forecasts often exceeds that of shorter ranges, as timing errors matter less. An increase in resolution and major model update in 2010 has significantly improved ECMWF predictions. Especially over tropical Africa new techniques such as convection-permitting models or combined statistical-dynamical forecasts may be needed to generate skill beyond the climatological reference.

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Jonny Mooneyham, Sean C. Crosby, Nirnimesh Kumar, and Brian Hutchinson

Abstract

Skillful nearshore wave forecasts are critical for providing timely alerts of hazardous wave events that impact navigation or recreational beach use. While typical forecasts provide bulk wave parameters (wave height and period), spectral details are needed to correctly predict wave and associated circulation dynamics in the nearshore region. Currently, global wave models, such as WAVEWATCH III (WW3), make spectral predictions, but do not assimilate regional buoy observations. Here, Spectral Wave Residual Learning Network (SWRL Net), a fully convolutional neural network, is trained to take recent WW3 forecasts and buoy observations, and produce corrections to frequency-directional WW3 spectra, transformed into directional buoy moments, for up to 24 h in the future. SWRL Net is trained with 10 years of collocated NOAA’s WW3 CFSR reanalysis predictions and buoy observations at three locations offshore of the U.S. western coast. At buoy locations SWRL Net residual corrections result in wave height root-mean-square error (RMSE) reductions of 23%–50% in the first 6 h and 10%–20% thereafter. Sea frequencies (5–10 s) show the most improvement compared to swell (12–20 s). SWRL Net reduces mean direction RMSE by 28%–54% and mean period RMSE by 20%–56% over 24 forecast hours. While each model is trained and tested at independent locations, SWRL Net exhibits generalization when introduced to data from other locations, suggesting future development may be composed of training sets from multiple locations.

Open access
Morten Køltzow, Barbara Casati, Thomas Haiden, and Teresa Valkonen

Abstract

Assessing the quality of precipitation forecasts requires observations, but all precipitation observations have associated uncertainties making it difficult to quantify the true forecast quality. One of the largest uncertainties is due to the wind-induced undercatch of solid precipitation gauge measurements. This study discusses how this impacts the verification of precipitation forecasts for Norway for one global model [the high-resolution version of the ECMWF Integrated Forecasting System (IFS-HRES)], and one high-resolution, limited-area model [Applications of Research to Operations at Mesoscale (MEPS)]. First, the forecasts are compared with high-quality reference measurements (less undercatch) and with more simple measurement equipment commonly available (substantial undercatch) at the Haukeliseter observation site. Then the verification is extended to include all Norwegian observation sites: 1) stratified by wind speed, since calm (windy) conditions experience less (more) undercatch; and 2) by applying transfer functions, which convert measured precipitation to what would have been measured with high-quality equipment with less undercatch, before the forecast–observation comparison is performed. Results show that the wind-induced undercatch of solid precipitation has a substantial impact on verification results. Furthermore, applying transfer functions to adjust for wind-induced undercatch of solid precipitation gives a more realistic picture of true forecast capabilities. In particular, estimates of systematic forecast biases are improved, and to a lesser degree, verification scores like correlation, RMSE, ETS, and stable equitable error in probability space (SEEPS). However, uncertainties associated with applying transfer functions are substantial and need to be taken into account in the verification process. Precipitation forecast verification for liquid and solid precipitation should be done separately whenever possible.

Open access
Jianing Feng, Yihong Duan, Qilin Wan, Hao Hu, and Zhaoxia Pu

Abstract

This work explores the impact of assimilating radial winds from the Chinese coastal Doppler radar on track, intensity, and quantitative precipitation forecasts (QPF) of landfalling tropical cyclones (TCs) in a numerical weather prediction model, focusing mainly on two aspects: 1) developing a new coastal radar super-observation (SO) processing method, namely, an evenly spaced thinning method (ESTM) that is fit for landfalling TCs, and 2) evaluating the performance of the radar radial wind data assimilation in QPFs of landfalling TCs with multiple TC cases. Compared to a previous method of generating SOs (i.e., the radially spaced thinning method), in which the density of SOs is equal within the radial space of a radar scanning volume, the SOs created by ESTM are almost evenly distributed in the horizontal grids of the model background, resulting in more observations located in the TC inner-core region being involved in SOs. The use of SOs from ESTM leads to more cyclonic wind innovation, and larger analysis increments of height and horizontal wind in the lower level in an ensemble Kalman filter data assimilation experiment with TC Mujigae (2015). Overall, forecasts of a TC’s landfalling position, intensity, and QPF are improved by radar data assimilation for all cases, including Mujigae and the other eight TCs that made landfall on the Chinese mainland in 2017. Specifically, through assimilation, TC landing position error and intensity error are reduced by 33% and 25%, respectively. The mean equitable threat score of extreme rainfall [>80 mm (3 h)−1] forecasts is doubled on average over all cases.

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Charles M. Kuster, Terry J. Schuur, T. Todd Lindley, and Jeffrey C. Snyder

ABSTRACT

Research has shown that dual-polarization (dual-pol) data currently available to National Weather Service forecasters could provide important information about changes in a storm’s structure and intensity. Despite these new data being used gradually by forecasters more over time, they are still not used extensively to inform warning decisions because it is unclear how to apply dual-pol radar data to specific warning decisions. To address this knowledge gap, rapid-update (i.e., volumetric update time of 2.3 min or less) radar data of 45 storms in Oklahoma are used to examine one dual-pol signature, known as the differential reflectivity (Z DR) column, to relate this signature to warning decisions. Base data (i.e., Z DR, reflectivity, velocity) are used to relate Z DR columns to storm intensity, radar signatures such as upper-level reflectivity cores, and scientific conceptual models used by forecasters during the warning decision process. Analysis shows that 1) differences exist between the Z DR columns of severe and nonsevere storms, 2) Z DR columns develop and evolve prior to upper-level reflectivity cores, 3) rapid-update radar data provide a more complete picture of Z DR column evolution than traditional-update radar data (i.e., volumetric update time of about 5 min), and 4) Z DR columns provide a clearer and earlier indication of changes in updraft strength compared to reflectivity signatures. These findings suggest that Z DR columns can be used to inform warning decisions, increase warning confidence, and potentially increase warning lead time especially when they are integrated into existing conceptual models about a storm’s updraft and intensity.

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Bryan T. Smith, Richard L. Thompson, Douglas A. Speheger, Andrew R. Dean, Christopher D. Karstens, and Alexandra K. Anderson-Frey

Abstract

The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has developed a database of damage-surveyed tornadoes in the contiguous United States (2009–17) that relates environmental and radar-derived storm attributes to damage ratings that change during a tornado life cycle. Damage indicators (DIs), and the associated wind speed estimates from tornado damage surveys compiled in the Damage Assessment Toolkit (DAT) dataset, were linked to the nearest manual calculations of 0.5° tilt angle maximum rotational velocity Vrot from single-site WSR-88D data. For each radar scan, the maximum wind speed from the highest-rated DI, Vrot, and the significant tornado parameter (STP) from the SPC hourly objective mesoscale analysis archive were recorded and analyzed. Results from examining Vrot and STP data indicate an increasing conditional probability for higher-rated DIs (i.e., EF-scale wind speed estimate) as both STP and Vrot increase. This work suggests that tornadic wind speed exceedance probabilities can be estimated in real time, on a scan-by-scan basis, via Vrot and STP for ongoing tornadoes.

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Bryan T. Smith, Richard L. Thompson, Douglas A. Speheger, Andrew R. Dean, Christopher D. Karstens, and Alexandra K. Anderson-Frey

Abstract

A sample of damage-surveyed tornadoes in the contiguous United States (2009–17), containing specific wind speed estimates from damage indicators (DIs) within the Damage Assessment Toolkit dataset, were linked to radar-observed circulations using the nearest WSR-88D data in Part I of this work. The maximum wind speed associated with the highest-rated DI for each radar scan, corresponding 0.5° tilt angle rotational velocity V rot, significant tornado parameter (STP), and National Weather Service (NWS) convective impact-based warning (IBW) type, are analyzed herein for the sample of cases in Part I and an independent case sample from parts of 2019–20. As V rot and STP both increase, peak DI-estimated wind speeds and IBW warning type also tend to increase. Different combinations of V rot, STP, and population density—related to ranges of peak DI wind speed—exhibited a strong ability to discriminate across the tornado damage intensity spectrum. Furthermore, longer duration of high V rot (i.e., ≥70 kt) in significant tornado environments (i.e., STP ≥ 6) corresponds to increasing chances that DIs will reveal the occurrence of an intense tornado (i.e., EF3+). These findings were corroborated via the independent sample from parts of 2019–20, and can be applied in a real-time operational setting to assist in determining a potential range of wind speeds. This work provides evidence-based support for creating an objective and consistent, real-time framework for assessing and differentiating tornadoes across the tornado intensity spectrum.

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Yiwen Mao and Asgeir Sorteberg

Abstract

A binary classification model is trained by random forest using data from 41 stations in Norway to predict the precipitation in a given hour. The predictors consist of results from radar nowcasts and numerical weather predictions. The results demonstrate that the random forest model can improve the precipitation predictions by the radar nowcasts and the numerical weather predictions. This study clarifies whether certain potential factors related to model training can influence the predictive skill of the random forest method. The results indicate that enforcing a balanced prediction by resampling the training datasets or lowering the threshold probability for classification cannot improve the predictive skill of the random forest model. The study reveals that the predictive skill of the random forest model shows seasonality, but is only weakly influenced by the geographic diversity of the training dataset. Finally, the study shows that the most important predictor is the precipitation predictions by the radar nowcasts followed by the precipitation predictions by the numerical weather predictions. Although meteorological variables other than precipitation are weaker predictors, the results suggest that they can help to reduce the false alarm ratio and to increase the success ratio of the precipitation prediction.

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Kelsey C. Britt, Patrick S. Skinner, Pamela L. Heinselman, and Kent H. Knopfmeier

Abstract

Cyclic mesocyclogenesis is the process by which a supercell produces multiple mesocyclones with similar life cycles. The frequency of cyclic mesocyclogenesis has been linked to tornado potential, with higher frequencies decreasing the potential for tornadogenesis. Thus, the ability to predict the presence and frequency of cycling in supercells may be beneficial to forecasters for assessing tornado potential. However, idealized simulations of cyclic mesocyclogenesis have found it to be highly sensitive to environmental and computational parameters. Thus, whether convective-allowing models can resolve and predict cycling has yet to be determined. This study tests the capability of a storm-scale, ensemble prediction system to resolve the cycling process and predict its frequency. Forecasts for three cyclic supercells occurring in May 2017 are generated by NSSL’s Warn-on-Forecast System (WoFS) using 3- and 1-km grid spacing. Rare cases of cyclic-like processes were identified at 3 km, but cycling occurred more frequently at 1 km. WoFS predicted variation in cycling frequencies for the storms that were similar to observed variations in frequency. Object-based identification of mesocyclones was used to extract environmental parameters from a storm-relative inflow sector from each mesocyclone. Lower magnitudes of 0–1-km storm-relative helicity and significant tornado parameter are present for the two more frequently cycling supercells, and higher values are present for the case with the fewest cycles. These results provide initial evidence that high-resolution ensemble forecasts can potentially provide useful guidance on the likelihood and cycling frequency of cyclic supercells.

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